Bert Olivier

Has humankind really “progressed”, in the Enlightenment sense of the word?

In philosophy, there is a saying, by Hegel, that the owl of Minerva only spreads its wings at dusk. Hence, when we take stock of our situation today, with the benefit of such hindsight, what do we perceive? Has humankind really “progressed”, in the Enlightenment sense of the word? In fact, does “progress” make any…

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Stop killing our wild animals!

In 2005 I spent three weeks in China, attending conferences in Nanjing and Beijing, and travelling to several other cities. At one point I participated in a hike about 90 kilometres outside Beijing, in an area where the great wall of China is quite dilapidated, unlike in the more touristy areas. It was an enjoyable…

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Far more than a thriller writer

It is easy to misjudge a writer, particularly if the blurbs on the cover of his or her books proclaim something like: “Impossible to put down. Another mind-blowing story!” Or: “Wow…Blockbuster perfection. An exhilaratingly brainy thriller…” Not that these blurbs are inaccurate regarding the novels I have in mind; up to a certain point they…

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

The automatic society

It should come as no surprise to learn that we live, and have in a sense always lived, in an “automatic society”. But – and this is a big “but” – digitalisation has not only made it more conspicuous; it has also brought us to the point where this “automatism” confronts human beings with a…

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

The biggest cover-up of all time?

After seeing the film based on Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and not having read the novel, I was somewhat prejudiced against his work as being just another kind of thriller, spruced up with a high-art context in which the action unfolds. Until I read his novel, Inferno, named after the first part of…

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

The ‘happiest’ nations in the world – what do they have in common?

Some of you probably know about the so-called “happiness index” that has been published on a regular basis for some time now. It lists the countries of the world on the basis of their ‘happiness’ and obviously, the index has a way of establishing such ‘happiness’ – a number of criteria, that is. This is…

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Why capitalism cannot afford to support the human sciences

Ever wondered why capitalism does not (in fact, cannot afford to) tolerate and support the human sciences – in other words, the humanities and social sciences? There is a reason for this. The short answer is that they cultivate critical thinking and practice, which capitalism, in its current attempt to consolidate its global power, naturally…

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

When do intimate relationships work?

I raise this question more as a kind of self-reflection than a hard-and-fast recipe of sorts. The latter cannot be supplied by anyone, for the “simple” reason that human beings are very complex creatures. While the interpersonal areas I reflect on below may indeed be important in all intimate relationships (and I do believe that…

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Masculinity and violence against women

During this period of encouraging the “proper” ethical behaviour towards women and children on the part of men, I have listened to a number of discussions on this topic on my car radio while driving, and I have not heard a single reference to Susan Faludi’s exemplary work in this field. Maybe it is because…

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

The feeling of living in a ‘dystopian’ present

You know that you are living in a “dystopian” or “degraded” era when virtually everything around you emits unmistakable signs that, whatever the underlying reasons might be, instead of signs of hope for a better future, those that signal a future we should perhaps fear (and perhaps feel guilty about), are slowly but surely accumulating….

Leave a comment Continue Reading →
Page 2123...102030...